mt1 Orrin's Stars
Also titled The Empty Nest
Originally titled You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

Lucca's eyes twitched some, as the odd dream ended, and she awoke. She lied there thinking about the scenes she just saw. They were very strange things, sights and notions unimaginable... things that could never ever be part of reality. But Lucca enjoyed such dreams as they came, she had that "Sci Fi" sort of mind that welcomed the unusual. It inspired her to create, driving her to finish even the most damned projects that she would be working on, making sure that they were done before she would start on the next one, and the next... those dreams kept her going, even through the worst slumps of ingenuity, and always made her little mental sparks turn into open flames. Literally. But she would continue even then... those blasted dreams, always making her hold off on her newest ideas... but she would never dare to wish them away, they were her sort of vitality, as Magus's music was his...

And Magus's face came to mind, right then and there. Lucca recognized the sight all right, him, with his guitar, shirtless... that was what made her last dream so odd. Him. Sure, the naked purple forest sprites that jumped around his body as it lay in that ditch were weird too. But hey, dreams are dreams, and the naked purple forest sprites that chanted The Star Spangled Banner around his double headed body were all part of that native spark...

But Lucca thought for a second. And she realized... that was her next spark. She had to go see more of that underground Mystic world, if not to inspire her to make her own creations, then to go and swipe some of her own, so she could improve upon them. She wondered about the sights she would see underground... beautiful buildings adorned with all sorts of technological wonders, maybe some sweet looking street conveyors or something... Lucca had no clue as to what was down there, all she knew was that before she found the secret of Ozzie's Fort, she would have never thought that Mystics could be so advanced. The ones that she had seen and fought certainly didn't seem so smart.

Lucca sighed and buried herself under the sheets, and began to doze off again. Strange thoughts came to her mind... she dreamed again of Magus's Castle, or should she say the Poyozo Palace... and then memories came up that she thought she had buried...

Yeah, okay. So me and him... yeah. Twice. It was fun! Hey, he wasn't bad. Of course, that was just compared to Crono, the only other person I have ever been with like that... of course, that was so many years ago, and we were just experimenting... naah, I didn't feel for him any. Sure, there was a crush during those 15th and 16th years of my life, but how on earth could it even become that? For goodness sake, our parents washed us together in the same baths when we were small!

But hey, Crono learned what it was like, and I learned what it was like... and I knew that we were and always would be just like family to each other.

Eiww.

Lucca's mind wandered further, as she wandered through the halls of the Poyozo Palace, turning away from Crono's room, and walked into the kitchen. Hi, Glenn! Cut your hair? No, that's blue. You cut Magus's hair? As revenge? Cool. Where is he? In his room? I gotta see this...

Lucca walked through the halls of the palace, through the hundreds of rooms that seemed not to be there before... well, they weren't there before. At least, not in the real castle... Lucca ran up the stairs, jumping five by five... Wow, big jumps! I feel like walking on my hands! But no, I'll save it for when I get outside...

Lucca walked toward the room with the light on inside, gasping at Magus sitting on the bed, his hair cut down to the length of about his chin. It was bouncy and light, and shook beautifully... it was full of life, much better looking that Lucca's own purple hair.

Hi, Magus, I still don't like you. Okay, you don't like me either. You'd like to be my humble servant? Oh, sure, that'd be great! Yeah! Okay, pledge your allegiance to me. Hey, I feel like a queen! What? Why are you angry? What do you mean YOU'RE the queen? Oh, you want to be the king. My king? No way. No, pull your pants up. What do you mean, its a kilt? Pull the kilt up! Okay, better. Ooh.. nice tattoo... hmm... what is it? A Zip Disk? What's that? Who's Iomega? Never heard of them. Pointing toward the window? What's near the window?

Lucca felt a slight heaviness on her back as she walked toward the large, oddly shaped window. Outside was the courtyard, but it was strangely in the distance... hundreds of feet below.

What do you mean, look up? At the sky? The moon? It's yellow. It's got weird looking dimples in it. And there's one right next to it, red... it looks like a scab. And one that's grayish, it's a bit below the others, like that constellation I heard about on the Media Crystal a few weeks back... I remember learning about it during one of those practices you guys were having... Orion! That's the name of it! Orion was a dude? Oh, that's pretty cool. Orion wants to kiss me? Is he cute? Okay, Magus, why'd you just kiss me on the cheek? I know your lips are nice and soft. I've kissed them before. I don't like you. Just give it up, Magus, just give it up...

Lucca's eyes opened again, awaking from yet another odd dream. Hmm... something was up with Magus all right...

Lucca decided to get up then. She had slept enough already, and had fully recovered from the lack of sleep from their little vacation at the palace. She stood and stretched, throwing on a pair of socks and shorts she had found on the floor, just to wear until she got washed up and dressed. She looked out the window at the horizon... the sun was right there. Was it really that early? No... judging by the color of the sky, it wasn't dawn. Just the opposite, dusk.

"Have I really slept that long?"

Lucca shivered some, and rummaged through her drawers for a pair of pants. She only found a pair of old sweats Crono had lent to her about three or four years ago. They were enough to cover her cold legs though, and she decided to settle the low rumble in her stomach, and make her way down to her kitchen.

"Good morning, Mom, Dad..."
"Morning? It's hardly morning, honey."
"Yeah, I know... I have a window in my room, remember?"
"Yes, honey. Well, you're up, so you might as well settle for dinner."
"What are we having?"
"Just your average steak. So tell me, Lucca, what were you doing away for so many days?"
"We were just away, mom... and our transportation broke down. There were a lot of things happening, I'd rather not talk about it."
"Lucca, is there anything you need to talk woman to woman about?"
"No, Mom, none of that..." Lucca said, as if tired of hearing her mother mention those words every time she was wary of Lucca's whereabouts.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, mom. No guys other than Crono."
"Good then."

Lucca was getting sick of her mother getting worried about her... what did she think her daughter was? Stupid? Hey, Lara should know better than anyone that Lucca was far from it.

"Oh, honey, that blonde girl came by earlier. She seemed awfully sluggish... she handed me this note, to give to you."
"Was it Marle?"
"I think so."

Lara handed Lucca the note, and she carefully opened the small, red seal on the back. Inside was a thin slip of paper adorned with floral designs that read:

Dear Honored Guest:

On behalf of the king, the castle would like to invite you and one guest to a special celebration at Guardia Castle. The party will take place on Saturday, the 21st. Be dressed in proper attire.

Guardia Castle

"What was this about?" Lucca thought. Lucca, though, who had developed that natural "Hallmark" talent, swiftly looked over to the back of the paper. There, was a note from Marle.

Hey, Lucca, just so you know, my pops wouldn't let me sleep any, so I'm yawning at this very moment. Before I fall asleep on the table, I'm just telling you to ignore the front. This was one of the old invitations first made up for a party coming in two days. Ignore the dress statement, too... I don't care what you wear, as long as you're there so I don't have to be. Basically, dad just wanted to have a little shindig to impress all of his rich friends. No, I'm not in a good mood about it. I hate my dad's friends... they're all so... boring! Even the ones my age. They're all boring as hell, and snooty... just to piss my father off, I'm having Crono bring his mother over. That ought to surprise all of those guests...

I'll see you there! *SNORE*

Marle

"Wonderful. A party."

* * *

Marle trudged across the grassy plain, her tired fingers clasping a somewhat dirty envelope, Crono's invitation. It hung loosely in her limp fingers, and bounced a bit as she walked. Suddenly, without her knowing, it fell from her fingers and onto the dirty ground below. After stepping on it, she finally realized what had happened, and picked the note up again.

"Damn it.... (yawn) need sleep...."

She trudged along, finally making it to Crono's home. She knocked several times and leaned against the side of the house, waiting for an answer. After a few seconds, Crono's mother opened the door, and peered outward in all directions.

"Oh! Hi young miss... can I help you?"
"Yeah... (yawn)... is Crono around?"
"Oh, sorry... he's gone, asleep... I could see him sleeping for another few hours, if not, more..."
"I wish I could sleep..."
"Well why don't you? You seem awfully sluggish."
"I know... it was just..."
"That little adventure you kids had with that big flying machine? Where on earth did you kids go again? Last time, you guys just told me that you were over and done with your mission, not even giving me an explanation..."
"Don't worry about it."
"And then I wound up in that awful ice cold place... what is it with that machine anyway?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Lucca's inventions get more and more odd as the days go by..."
"Hmm."
"And then that place with the lamp post... and you guys left Crono behind, dropped me back here, and left again..."
"Yeah, yeah miss." Marle was bored at the odd "Mom talk" Crono's mother was giving her.
"Who was that old man, anyway? I don't get him."
"He was just some old guy, a friend of ours. Don't worry about it, its nothing, really. Not anymore."
"Fine then... would you like to come in for tea?"
"No, that's all right. I've had more tea than I could handle, and I don't care if I ever see another drop again..."
"Well then, I suppose you must be running home. Where in blazes do you live, anyway?"
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."
"Where?"
"Nowhere. Uhh, Miss, could you give this note to Crono?" Marle said, handing the note to Crono's mom.
"What's this?"
"Its just an invitation... when Crono gets up, let him see it, and tell him I told you to give you the details."
"Okay, miss..."
"Goodbye!"

Marle turned away and started walking slowly back to the castle.

"What a blissfully oblivious woman..." she said to herself. "She hasn't had a clue to as what's been going on around her..."

* * *

"A party? We're invited to a party?"

Crono nodded in response to his mother's statement.

"Oh, honey... are you sure? I mean, if this is just for you kids... It wouldn't be right for me to intrude..."

Crono shook his head, as if to say "that's okay."

"Really? Well... I suppose I'd need a date..."

Crono jumped at his mother's side, and took her arm in his.

"Crono! This is awfully cute of you. Are you sure?"

Crono nodded.

"Well then... I guess we'll be going together, won't we, son! You know, you're wonderful..."

Crono's mother kissed him on the forehead, and straightened out his clothes.

"I'm so glad to have a son like you."

Crono giggled, and reached to hug his mother.

* * *

"Hmm... no, too shiny... too dull..." Crono's mother laughed, as she rummaged through her closet for old dresses. "... too flashy... he he he... way too short... absolutely not... maybe this one... certainly not this one..."

She rummaged wildly in anticipation, searching for the perfect dress to wear to the party. She was incredibly surprised when she read that the note was an invitation to a party at the castle, delivered by none other than the princess... why hadn't Crono told her? Maybe Crono thought she would get too excited with her son dating a monarch. But why did Crono say they weren't dating?

Suddenly, the mother's eyes came across a slightly yellowed garment hanging in the back. It was simple, and long, and a bit fluffy at the bottom. It was laced with a few simple beads at the bottom and a few on the sleeves. Over time, though, some of those beads had worn off. The top of the dress was a turtleneck, fluffed with lace, as was the style at the time when the dress was in use.

"My wedding dress..."

She pulled out the heavy garment and held it before her.

"The ugliest damned dress that ever existed... and I had to embarrass myself by wearing it... because HE said so..."

She stuffed the dress into the closet, even farther in the back than she had it before, ignoring the obvious folds that could lead to a crease in the fabric.

"HE made the decision on MY dress because HE didn't want me looking too damn beautiful... he couldn't trust me to be faithful to him..."

She slammed the closet door shut.

"Bastard...."

She wiped a slight tear from her eye, and continued to look behind her at some of the selections she had chosen earlier. There was one wine colored dress, long and very loose... a turtleneck. She threw it to the side. There was another navy colored dress, barely above her ankles. The sleeves were long, and the top barely showed her entire neck. She threw that one to the side, also. At last, there was a simple black dress... one that was even older than she was. It was somewhat form fitting, and went down to her knees. The sleeves went down to her forearm, but the top was nice looking. It would hang off the shoulders and dip down, and go straight at the top of the bust. But alas, there was a nice large rip in the back, and she had to throw that one aside, also.

"Nothing to wear, nothing at all..."

She sighed and sat on the bed, wiping another stray tear from her eye. She suddenly stood as she heard a pair of legs bounding up the stairs.

"Noah?"
"Lara?"
"Noah, why are you crying?"
"It's nothing... really..."
"Hmm... there are dresses all over, and it looks like none of them are good... come on, Noah, talk to me."
"Oh... well... I mean, there's this party that Crono was invited to, and that I was invited to..."
"What party?"
"Something at the castle tomorrow night that Crono wants me to go to. Weren't you invited?"
"No, I wasn't. There was an invitation for Lucca, though."
"Oh, I'm sorry..."
"Naah, me and Taban are busy tomorrow night anyway. He has some convention to go to, and he wants me to go with him..."
"But I thought it was your anniversary!"
"Yeah, It's supposed to be our 20th... but he said there's some sort of science convention or festival or something. He said that Lucca didn't have to go with him, which was sort of a shock to me."
"Well... heh..."
"That's all right though, I don't feel bad about not getting invited. What would I do there, anyway? Sit and drink?"
"Why not?"
"Ah... don't feel like it. I just feel like dancing... maybe if I bother Taban enough, he'll take me out somewhere so we can dance together."
"That's sweet."

Crono's mother sat there silent for a while, while Lara stood in the doorway, holding a plate that she obviously forgot about.

"Well, I guess I'd better clean up these old clothes..."
"Hmm... nothing to wear, eh?"
"No..."
"You miss him, don't you..."
"I missed him when I was an impressionable and submissive typical wife. But I grew up. And now I don't care if I ever see him again. In fact, I hope I never see him again. I don't need him. And neither does Crono. If that awful man dares to show his ugly face around my home again, I'd probably take a knife to him..."
"Hell hath no fury..."
"Hell doesn't know the meaning of the word."
"Brownie?"
"Hand it over."

Crono's mom grabbed the chocolate treat and shoved it in her mouth, and giggled some.

"Hell hath no fury like a middle aged woman with a brownie."
"Mhmmm. (munch munch)"

Lara stood and walked around the room a bit, looking at the failed outfits that were slung about the room. They were all very conservative, and very dark colored, and apparently too big to fit Lara's frame properly. And they were all worn and faded anyway.

"Noah, I'm taking you shopping."
"What?"
"We're getting you a new dress, and shoes, and jewelry, and the works. Makeup, hair, everything."
"But... I don't have that kind of cash!"
"Whoever said it needed to cost a lot? And besides... didn't Crono bring you home a pile of gold after their little adventure?"
"Which one? The first one, or the one they're all still recovering from?"
"The first one. I know Lucca came home loaded."
"Well, Crono did have a lot of gold on him... but that was his hard earned cash."
"And he didn't give you any?"
"Well, he sort of... made me take some of it. But I put it away, to keep just in case he needed it..."
"He has his own money, Noah. It's time you spent something on yourself! So come on, get up, and get ready. We'll clean up these clothes later."
"Oh Lara..."
"We're going to make you look absolutely stunning..."

* * *

Lara indeed took Noah shopping, traveling by ferry to all of the farthest ports, looking for the most exotic accessories. They had traveled even as far as Choras, which was by far the most expensive town that they had ever been in.

When Crono gave his mother that pile of gold so many months ago (after that incredible venture through time), Crono's mother had barely been able to count it. The golden tokens filled a multitude of small jars that she had stored away in the back of the cupboards so she wouldn't be tempted to spend them. Each small jar contained over 1,500 gold each. But when Lara took Noah shopping, she made sure that there were no obstacles to keep Noah from buying every last thing that interested her.

By the time they were done shopping and were back at her home, all that was left of the gold was a single jar containing fifteen gold pieces and a ball of lint.

* * *

"What on earth is taking her so long?" Crono thought to himself. He sat, his arm resting on his kitchen table. He was dressed in his best, in a slick black tux with a black vest under it, with his hair newly washed and combed (for a change). It still retained its natural spiky pattern, but it was much brighter, and certainly smelled better. Crono had also ditched the bandanna in favor of a bare forehead.

"Crono, are you ready?" the voice called, laughing. Crono could hear the giggles of the two middle aged women clear as day.
"I'm coming, Crono!"

Crono stood, anxious to get going. He threw a bag over his back, a bag that contained his usual clothes. Crono knew full well that his plans were to change out of the annoying tuxedo as soon as he found his mother a properly aged dancing partner, and to go sit with Marle and Lucca.

Crono heard slow footsteps as they descended his staircase. They sounded... funny, like no other pair of shoes Crono had ever heard before. And then Crono's mother made herself known. And Crono was taken aback... he had never known his mother to look so pretty.

She was wearing a beautiful dark blue dress, one that extended straight up and down from the top of her bust to just above her knees, and was held up by two tiny straps that looked as if they were diamonds knitted into the thin blue fabric. There was a slight rose pattern across the dress, a string of roses, actually, that started from the top left and ended down at the lower right. On his mother's feet were matching blue heels, with blue straps across the ankles. On her arms were simple bracelets that looked like shining silver with blue sapphires. Then Crono looked upward, towards his mother's face and shoulders. Her hair was cut up to her shoulders, and hung straight down, with her bangs fastened to the sides of her face by small silver pins. She wore a silver necklace with a blue sapphire pendant shaped like a teardrop, with matching dangling earrings on each ear.

"So, what do you think?"

Crono was barely able to peep. He was somewhat embarrassed... he had never seen his mother look like that before. She was actually showing more skin than just her hands and face! And now he was bound to have people laugh at him because of his mother's clothing. But then again, Crono though she was absolutely stunning... and was proud of her. Screw them. he thought. I've got the prettiest mother in the world.

"Okay, Noah, its time for me to get going... Taban wanted me home about an hour ago, but I really don't care..."
"Oh, Lara... just go and see Taban, and relax. Just enjoy the science fair, okay?"
"Okay... you look so pretty, Noah, you'll be fighting them off with a stick! Take care!"

They exchanged hugs and friendly kisses on the cheek, and Lara left. She turned to Crono.

"So... are we ready to go, son?"

Crono nodded, and they left to meet Lucca.

* * *

"Miss?"
"What do you mean, miss?"
"No... that isn't you... is it? Crono, that's your mother?"
"It's me..."
"Look at this! You look stunning, Miss. Where on earth did you get that dress?" Lucca asked in pure wonderment. She had only seen that style dress through the Media Crystal.
"Ohh, me and you mother went to Choras, and found this lovely dress... it had been imported from Medina."
"Medina? Wow..." Lucca was now more anxious than ever to go back to 600AD, to have Magus take her to the Mystic Underground... and she would have gone, except for the fact that her father asked to borrow the Epoch, telling her he would figure it out later on...
"So lets get going! Come on!"

Lucca grabbed her bag and followed Crono and his mother toward the castle.

* * *

Crono's mother brushed off her dress a bit as she exited Guardia Forest. It was dark and damp in there, and she was worried that her hair might have gotten ruined. But Lucca assured her she looked fine, and they continued on into the castle. Once they were about to make their way into the main room, they were stopped by a man holding a list.

"Hi!" said Lucca, cheerily.
"Names?" the man replied snootily.
"Lucca and Crono, plus guest."
"Hmm... Lucca and Crono may enter, but I do not have anyone down for guest."
"What?" Crono's mother asked, surprised.
"I have Lucca down and I have Crono down. No guest."
"Wha-what? No guest?" Crono's mother started to panic.
"Your list is wrong, mister!" Lucca yelled.
"The list is perfect. Miss, you have to leave."
"But... but... I... All the trouble..." she started to cry. Suddenly, a loud, deep voice interjected.
"What, may I ask, is the problem here?" Asked King Guardia, who had quietly approached the situation.
"Your highness!" The man, surprised, bowed before the king.
"I asked you a question."
"Well, this lady isn't on the list..."

The king took the list in his hand, and looked at the names, noting that there was no guest along with either the name Crono or Lucca. He turned to give the woman the bad news, but stopped short in his tracks, as he glanced at her face.

"See? Even the king knows. You're not on the list."
"Let her in."
"What?"
"You heard my orders. Let her in."
"But sir!"
"She will be my personal guest."
"Sir, I must intervene..."
"You're fired, servant. Get lost."

The man, deeply shocked, complied with the king's orders, and left the castle.

"Oh... uh... your honor... err... highness..."
"Relax, my lady. You may just call me King."
"Oh! Yes... King... of course, all monarchs like to be called by their title, right?" Crono's mom giggled nervously.
"No, my name is actually King. It's on my birth certificate."
"Oh... well... I mean...."
"Don't worry, don't feel nervous about addressing me informally. Only you and I will know."

Crono's mother kept giggling, still wiping nervous tears from her eyes.

"Why don't I show you around the castle?"
"Oh, but sir... err... King, you don't have to, I mean, if you're busy--"
"Busy? I'm downright bored."
"Well then... I'd love to go."

The king smiled through his mustache, and took Noah's arm in his. She walked away smiling.

"Well, Crono, your mother has certainly made an impact on the king."
"Deesa funny..."
"Wow! You hadn't talked all night! Has your mother heard your voice yet?"
"No..."
"Why not?"

Crono shrugged, and pulled Lucca into the main room, and continued through the crowd to make their way up to Marle's room.

* * *

"Hey Marle! Marle! Eh? Oh... damn..." Lucca barged into Marle's room, only to find her asleep at her table, dressed in a lovely white gown.
"Marle sweepy..."
"Yeah... I guess you could change in here now, while she's out..."

Crono nodded, and continued to take off his clothes while Lucca examined Marle. She noticed something funny.

"Hey, Crono... come over here..." she said, as she suddenly looked at Crono. "I see France! Fix your undies!"

Crono giggled and fixed "himself" and threw on his pants and his green undershirt. He approached Marle, as she was face down, in a pile of cosmetics.

"Wow... It looks like..."
"Deesa weird..."
"She's not breathing."
"Marle...."

Lucca tried to lift Marle's head and shake it, but Marle wouldn't wake up.

"Marle?"
"Marle... Deesa no funny."
"Marle, wake your ass up!"

Marle's eyes suddenly fluttered open.

"Uhh... good morning, everyone..."
"Jesus, Marle! We thought you were dead!"
"Lucca? Crono? What's this all about?" She said, glancing toward her window. "Nighttime? Already?"
"Yeah, the party's on downstairs."
"Oh, great... this means my father should be up here any minute, to force me to dance with mister Prince Jackass..."
"Prince who?"
"He's not really a prince, he's just the son of one of the mayors of one of the other towns... pops wants me to like him, but he's really, and I mean REALLY, an asshole."
"No kidding."
"He's not even cute, either. His hair is just yecch, and his face is just so bleh..."
"Damn."
"Does anyone know what time it is?"

Lucca suddenly jumped.

"Oh man... I forgot! I think Dexter's Laboratory is on! And then Macgyver!"
"What're those?"
"Shows on the media crystal that I just HAVE to watch. Sorry guys, I gotta go..."

Lucca turned and left, running to go home. On her way, she noticed Crono's mom sitting with the king, smiling and giggling softly while he sat with her, equally as cheery.

"My my my... the devil wears a blue dress..."

She left the castle and started home.

* * *

Lucca felt her way along the sides of her house, carefully looking for her front door. The sky was dark and the moon barely present, in the form of a waning crescent. Lucca yawned and pushed a small key into the front door of her home, turning it carefully. Suddenly, without warning, a loud crack came from the side of her house. She turned toward the direction of the sound, and saw a small shadow as it jumped behind the corner.

"Stupid raccoons..." she said, as she pushed the door open and shut it behind her, forgetting what happened.

The figure emerged from the corner once more, being careful to keep himself from giving away his presence once more.

"Could that be..." he whispered quietly to himself, as he stared at the doorway. The girl's figure remained clear in his mind, as he searched his memory for the name that matched it. Sighing, he abandoned the useless brainstorm and continued to search around the house.

"Dammit, Taban! Where are you?" the man whispered with an uneasy worry.